Utah's forests face the potential for the worst forest fire season ever, thanks to abandoned campfires and the careless use of fireworks, said Regional Forester Stan Tixier.
Municipal fire officials have fireworks concerns as well because of the hot, dry weather."Extremely dry conditions have put us into high to extreme fire danger across the region," Tixier said. "We're nearly a month ahead of where we are normally for this time of year, and this condition is not likely to improve soon."
High temperatures and the absence of rainfall have contributed to severe and erratic burning conditions. A fireworks-caused fire on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Idaho burned 1,300 acres, prompting the evacuation of 70 people and costing the forest service almost $1 million to control.
"It's unusual for fire of this type to burn as rapidly as it did on this forest at this time of year," Tixier said. "This shouldn't have happened because fireworks of any kind are prohibited on the national forests."
More than 3,000 acres of public land in Utah has burned so far this season.
Municipal fire officials in the Salt Lake area are also concerned about the potential for grass and structure fires from errant fireworks.
Not only is the potential for fire extremely high, but the ability to fight fires is sometimes hindered by low water pressures, said Murray Fire Marshal Dean Larsen.
"Fluctuations in water pressure could cause a problem at certain times of the day - our reservoirs have been way down," Larsen said.